Personal injury cases are complex, and they must be filed before a certain deadline. That deadline is the statute of limitations. Often, however, personal injury victims aren’t sure when their deadline is, what statute of limitations applies to their case, and how to know if they’ve missed their chance to recover compensation.

This page will break down the statute of limitations for New York personal injury lawsuits as well as the exceptions to this deadline and how they may relate to your case.

Alternatively, if you would prefer to speak with an expert NY personal injury lawyer over the phone, you can call 1-516-342-2200 and allow Schwartzapfel Lawyers the honor and privilege of extending you a free case evaluation today.

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

In a nutshell, a statute of limitations is the time limit for lawsuit filing. Practically every type of lawsuit in US law is subject to a statute of limitations. Beyond this point, claimants may not file a lawsuit against the defendant based on the case’s specifics, circumstances, and more.

For example, if you were involved in a New York personal injury incident, your window to file a claim will likely close forever once the corresponding statute of limitations is up (which, for NY personal injury claims, is usually 3 years). If you don’t file a lawsuit before then, you will no longer have the right to file a lawsuit for the incident in question. Note: Some exceptions do apply.

Therefore, individuals who want to file lawsuits must do so promptly or risk their claim being forever barred by the statute of limitations. This can be harder than you think.

For instance, many personal injuries require several months or years of recovery time. Victims may also have difficulty securing the funds to pay for a personal injury lawsuit or may not think they have the money to afford one in the first place.

All of these factors and more can delay lawsuit filing. Educated legal professionals will tell their clients about the statute of limitations for their cases. They will also ensure that their clients’ lawsuits and subsequent motions are filed on time. You can learn more about the statute of limitations for personal injury cases and other legal rules by calling Schwartzapfel Lawyers at 1-516-342-2200 right away.

Are Statutes of Limitations the Same Everywhere and for All Lawsuits?

No. Statutes of limitations vary heavily between states and different lawsuit types. For instance, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases in New York is not necessarily the same for personal injury cases in California.

Therefore, you should speak with qualified legal professionals when considering filing any type of lawsuit. They can tell you about the statute of limitations for the lawsuit in question and how it relates to statewide statutes of limitations, deadlines, and more.

NY Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

Pursuant to the New York Civil Practice Law & Rules § 214, the statute of limitations for New York personal injury lawsuits is generally three (3) years from the date of the incident.

As well, any action to recover damages for a personal injury” must have at least started within three (3) years (See NYCPLR). Note: This doesn’t mean a case has to be resolved or settled within three years; you just have to have filed your lawsuit and begun legal proceedings by then.

This three-year statute of limitations applies to the vast majority of personal injury lawsuits in the Empire State, including in New York City. This also applies the personal injury cases based on:

  • Negligence, which applies the majority of personal injury accidents
  • Intentional tort, which only applies to civil assault, battery, and purposeful conduct or malicious intent cases

Here’s an example of the New York personal injury statute of limitations in action:

  • A New York motorist was involved in an auto accident on October 23, 2021
  • The other driver, who had been drinking and driving at the time of the accident, will likely be found liable for the accident and injuries sustained by the first motorist.
  • The victimized motorist must file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver by October 23, 2024. That date is exactly three (3) years from the date of the incident and is when the statute of limitations expires

Note that the statute of limitations pertains to the date of the incident in the hypothetical lawsuit and not the date that the victim(s) received medical attention, contacted their attorneys, or any other development.

What if You Miss the Statute Deadline?

If it has been over three years since the accident or incident occurred, the defendant can file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. In the vast majority of cases, the court will then dismiss the personal injury case. Victims in these circumstances are usually no longer able to get damages for injuries regardless of their situation or financial status.

Thus, keeping the statute of limitations deadline in mind is critical for both securing compensation and maintaining strong negotiating power. No matter their plan, your legal team will not be able to bargain with much if the statute of limitations has already passed.

Personal Injury Statute of Limitations Exceptions

Although the statute of limitations of three (3) years applies to most cases, there are some exceptions. These exceptions are noted so that reasonable delays in filing the lawsuit may be accounted for before and during the legal process.

Disability or Minor Status

According to New York State law, injured persons who are legally disabled and not of sound mind at the time of the accident are not subject to the three-year deadline. Instead, the three-year clock only begins if or when they are ever declared of sound mind.

For instance, if a person is injured in an auto accident and enters a coma for one year, their statute of limitations will begin when they awaken from the coma, not on the date of the incident.

Similarly, those who are minors when they experience a personal injury are not subject to the same statute of limitations. Their three-year clock only begins to run when they turn 18. Therefore, if a minor is injured in a car accident at the age of 16, they will technically have five (5) years to decide whether to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Periods of Absence

Additionally, if the defendant or person who allegedly caused the incident leaves New York after the accident and is gone for four (4) months or more, that timeframe is not counted as part of the three-year statute of limitations.

For instance, say that a business manager accused of personal injury liability flees the state for five (5) months after the accident. The statute of limitations deadline will not begin until they return to the state. This prevents those guilty of personal injury accidents or other negligence from fleeing and rendering themselves immune to lawsuits.

How NY Personal Injury Attorneys Help

As you can see, the statute of limitations for New York personal injury cases is supremely important. When acting alone, it can be tough to keep all of this information in your head and to make sure you file your paperwork on time. That’s why hiring New York personal injury attorneys is always a wise idea.

New York personal injury lawyers can help in a variety of ways, which is why you should give Schwartzapfel Lawyers a call today at 1-516-342-2200. We’ll begin with a free case evaluation and help you choose your next steps carefully.

File Paperwork on Time

One of the first things an experienced New York personal injury attorney can do for you is ensure that the right paperwork is filed on time so you don’t miss the statute of limitations. As well, the right law firm can serve papers to the accused party or their legal team, speak to the court, and do all the other legwork and busywork necessary to get a lawsuit going.

This can be very immensely helpful for victims of personal injuries, who, during this time, often must focus on recovery or other aspects of their lives. By hiring legal professionals, you’ll give yourself the time and energy to return to work, recover from injuries, and/or deal with family matters as necessary.

Ensure You Haven’t Missed the Deadline

Additionally, legal professionals can make sure you haven’t missed any filing deadlines in the first place. These can be tough to determine if you are still new to New York’s many multifaceted legal processes.

Once you present your information to a skilled attorney, they can look at the date of the accident, project three (3) years in advance, and make sure calendar quirks don’t get in the way of justice.

For instance, if one year is a leap year, in theory that should add an extra day to your statute of limitations; in reality, however, this may actually move up your deadline and force you to act faster than you might have otherwise.

Accelerate Legal Proceedings

With the right maneuvers, legal professionals can also accelerate the lawsuit process and ensure that you get the compensation you need to pay for medical expenses and other damages ASAP. This is important for many personal injury victims, who, while recovering and unable to work, often have to pay for medical bills out of pocket.


Although the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is three (3) years, it’s not as much time as you would think – especially when trying to heal, pay bills, and get back to where you were before someone else’s negligence led to your being injured.

As such, getting your lawsuit filed quickly and capably is key to a successful outcome. Schwartzapfel Lawyers can help you with this element of your personal injury lawsuit and more, so contact us today at 1-516-342-2200 and let’s get started!


Fighting For You™™ | Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C.

Civil Practice Law & Rules (CVP) § 214(4) |

Statute of Limitations Definition | Investopedia

Statute of Limitations Chart | NY CourtHelp

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